In Indian start-ups, there’s plenty of room for family

Virendra Pandit Ahmedabad | Updated on January 20, 2018



Relatives often turn co-founders, angel investors, decision-makers and mentors

Family-owned businesses were the norm in Old Economy—children or descendents simply inherited their family’s businesses and professions—from politics to medicine. The age-old practice was so mater-of-fact and popular that some educational institutions, like the Ahmedabad University, even offered a study of “family business” as part of curriculum to students.

However, unlike in the West, where startup unicorns flowered, the New Indian Economy appears to be following the same age-old, ‘all-in-family’ model, with some of the startups getting launched by, or studded with, family members in important decision-making positions. Even as there are startups that seek co-founders from diverse backgrounds to boost businesses, there are those that are roping in their family members as business associates, suppliers or mentors-advisors., launched in June 2015 as an online furniture company for delivering designer modular kitchens and home goods, follows this business route. Avijit Marwah, Co-Founder, roped in his sister-in-law Mehaa as Co-Founder, and his other family members as suppliers. “I am the fourth-generation member in my family’s traditional business of modular furniture manufacturing. At Modspace, I handle the operations, Neha looks after social media, and my other family members are material suppliers,” he told BusinessLine.

This synergy, Marwah said, is necessary: while one company has the technical knowhow, the other one knows manufacturing with wood and equipment imported from Germany and Italy, he added.

Akshay Verma, who worked with a private equity in London, teamed up with sister Arushi, a World Bank official, to return to India and found in 2015 Fitpass, a gym-cum-fitness aggregator that also provides access to health enthusiasts to go to any gym or fitness centre. “One can buy our monthly pass for Rs 999 that provides them access to any of our 1,150 partners located next to their home or office. We are currently present in Delhi-NCR, Gurgaon and Noida and plan to expand to Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh this year.”

Fitpass, he said, has already become India’s top app in the $20 billion fitness market, he said, quoting from a PwC estimate.

Sister-duo Priya and Charu Sachdev, Co-Founders of elite online marketplace RockNShop, launched their platform 18 months ago. “According to EuroMonitor, India’s online luxury shopping market is expected to grow from Rs. 16,300 crore now to Rs. 40,000 crore by 2020,” Priya said. Her startup’s growth from 12 brands in 2015 to 200 now and a projected 3,000 brands by 2017 is a pointer to this. The international online sale in India alone is currently USD 85 million, she added.

RockNShop showcases Indian and global labels and supports retailers and brands to reach out to the HNIs in the country.

Published on April 15, 2016

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